A World Without Color: – Bernard Jan
Bernard Jan tells in detail the last 3 days of Marcel’s life, as his cat goes through its final stages of suffering from diabetes. This story is very emotional and touching, which felt like a self-professing love poem to Marcel – his pet, his companion, his love. The emotions are raw and unrestrained and the difficult decision to stop the suffering by putting Marcel to sleep, weighs heavily on his heart yet it is the final act of kindness he can offer.
“I wish I could be brave like you and look death in the face with equal force and dignity”
“My love, if you go away in a few days, the world will lose its colors and darken like the land of Mordor.
Your presence in my life is like a room filled with lamps. When you’re gone, the brightest, the prettiest one will go out. And leave behind the half-light of unclear shadows.”
The story will resonate most acutely with those that have pets where they have developed a relationship which integrates them as part of the family. It is very emotive for those that have experienced a similar situation of loss. The poetic language makes it more personal and heartfelt, and it feels like an intimate letter, a gift, which will last as a final testament to his love for Marcel.
The power of this book is that it opens an old wound or fear, a wound that you don’t want to close, a wound that itches and needs to be scratched. You need to bleed! Again!
I’m not an animal lover, my wife and children are. I’m more the favourite Uncle rather than immediate family. We’ve always homed abandoned cats that seem to find their way to our house – they just show up at the back door, scrawny and riddled with fleas. Perhaps it’s my wife’s love of animals and the bond she quickly forms that has prevented me from establishing any unique connections. The last addition was (is) an extremely nervous and timid stray, that surprisingly only I was able to pet and convince to come indoors. We realised she was pregnant while not much more than a kitten herself, and when it came time to give birth, we kept her indoors in her own little shelter, and I stayed with her during the 8-hour labour. The advice from those that knew better was not to interfere, otherwise, the mother may abandon her kittens, especially considering she was wild. During the first birth, the kitten died as the mother seemed confused and unable to manage her new-born. The second kitten also died as it was only half delivered before the contractions stopped and the mother gave up exhausted. I couldn’t watch this happen again and when the third birth started I actively got involved and physically helped deliver Jasmine. After the delivery, I ruptured her amniotic sac and massaged her chest until she breathed properly and moved. A process I repeated for another 2 kittens – Leo and Jive. Each kitten I presented to the mother and helped her to clean and care for them. She turned out to be a wonderful mother and overnight I became a midwife and stepfather.
Watching them grow up was so hilarious, so amazing and so precious. Jasmine was always the first to come to me as I sat on the floor, and the last to leave. She had an ongoing fascination with the laces of my trainers and so many other little memories. For the last 6 months, her routine was to go outside after breakfast and after a few hours come round to my home office window, whereby I would pick her up and lift her through the window. We would spend the next 15 minutes head to head and under my chin, receiving a lot of petting, with purring and other sounds of delight filling the air. I would get my hand and arm licked in return for a kiss on the top of her head. She lay at the end of my desk on a blanket for most of the working day, only getting up to repeat the petting every few hours or want to be cuddled in my arms. She would follow me around the house if I moved. At this point, she ceased being a cat and became my companion, my sticking plaster, my family. She was amazingly affectionate, content, and devoted to our special relationship. If I left for work she would lie outside my office door until my car pulled into the driveway, and then she would meet me as I opened the door. I would pick her up and we would hug each other – ‘I was only gone a short while’, I would explain.
On 16th May this year, a car knocked her down and killed her – 5 days before her first birthday. I found her body at the side of the road still slightly warm, blood in her mouth still wet, and her beautiful little face still so perfect. My brain shut down in shock, my gut was churned-up in nauseating pain and my heart was ripped apart. I struggled to remember how to breathe. I was too stunned to cry but the next morning while we were burying her I held her in my arms one last time and soaked her fur with tears that I didn’t even know where flooding down my face. Every day I glance at the end of my desk and picture her lying there looking up at me asking the question, ‘are you finished yet?’ ‘What about another cuddle?’ Jasmine, I miss you!
I appreciate the author providing me with the opportunity to review his book. I hope you don’t mind me telling my story as part of this review as I’ve not spoken about it until now. Maybe writing is the healing process – good luck with your healing Bernard.